June 3, 2020

One thing is clear, even though there will be varied steps of reopening on various schedules, high level online worship is here to stay.  We must add to this; that even when reopening happens many will continue to worship online at home. They will either feel unsafe going to in-person worship, or they will have just got used to going to church in their pajamas.
If online worship is going to grow, be effective, and continue as a key part of making disciples, then those who “tune in” are going to have to participate. “Watching only” will not keep most people from coming back week after week and certainly will not be an efficient way to make disciples.

  • Help them set up for worship, get a candle they light, have a special place in their home, maybe put out a Cross, anything to make a sacred place other than just a screen. Help them build a sanctuary in their home where they consistently worship.
  • Have an invitation to unite with the church, to make Christ Lord and Savior, to follow Jesus Christ, to kick off the Christian life. Always assume there are people participating who don’t know Christ and have yet to unite with the Church; give them the next steps and a way to respond if they do decide.
  • Invite them to sing, don’t assume they will.  Speak to the listener in a way that makes them want to engage and participate not just watch.  Worship is participatory.
  • Make giving during the invitation part of the service, certainly provide the systems to give, but make it a part of worshiping God, of contributing to the life and mission of the Church, and the difference it makes.  It is an act of worship, give them time in the service to respond just like when you pass the plate during in-person worship.
  • In the worship experience are those viewing being invited to participate, engage, respond throughout the service, take notes, bow and pray, read any liturgy, open their Bibles, light the candle, put the cross in place, give, sing, and then have a next step where they can respond to grow in their faith and in service. 

I recognize there are many ways to have worship, but the idea of participating, connecting, and engaging in worship must be done in common.  It’s much harder for people to be engaged and participate online unless we are intentional to invite.
Ask the question, “Is this service we have planned invitational, participatory, can people engage, and is there a way to respond to the touch of God they hopefully have experienced in the worship service. 
If someone is a member, how can they respond? If someone is a long-term disciple, how do they grow and serve? If someone does not know Christ, how do they enter this relationship? If someone is broken, addicted, lost, hurting, how can the be healed, delivered, saved, made whole?
Expect the unchurched to show up and give them an invitation to the amazing Christian life we all treasure.

Rev. Mike Ramsdell, Executive Director

Center for Evangelism, Mission & Church Growth